Tips for airline travel

Jean Claude Reuille25-Aug-2020

Traveling across the globe is a worthwhile experience but also a taxing task that can undermine one’s energy levels. No matter how excited you are for your upcoming journey, the thought of preparing yourself for the journey induces stress. Starting from booking, packing based on airline’s policy to clearing the formalities at the airport, everything results in an exhausting experience.


If you are experienced or a first-time flyer, travel is stressful for everyone. Jet Lag can put a damper on your vacation as it causes fatigue, dehydration and headache so one needs to take precautions to reduce its effects. This is just a small part of airline travel. 


Flying needs a little preparation so that you can have fun at the airport and relax the moment you leave your home. The good news is that here you will find some great tips for the airline travel that will prepare you for the unexpected. 


Here are some tips that will help you through everything that lies after the moment you book a flight reservation:


Booking Flights

When you zero in on the destination and plan to travel by air, the next step is to book your flights. We recommend booking early for better deals. If you book a few months in advance, then you will get a cheap deal. While booking try to be flexible about the dates If possible. Compare the prices on different travel portals as airfare is the largest expense of your trip. If you travel in a peak season, then booking early will ensure a seat as most of the time flights are overbooked. Booking at the last minute will lead to higher prices.


Book a connecting flight if you are not in a hurry to reach your destination. It is cheaper as compared to a non-stop flight. You can narrow down your search through the search filters on the website by choosing the same. Flying mixed carriers will also save you some bucks.


If you are a frequent flyer, then you can redeem your miles or use a combination of cash and miles when booking expensive flights. You can always check with the airline representative over the call as to how many miles you have and booking procedure through miles. Paying through credit cards is sometimes beneficial as you may get credit card travel points.


Be careful about the name while booking

The name on the ticket should match the name as on the ID card as the mismatch may create a problem at the airport security check. If your name has a middle name and it is mentioned on the passport/ID card then, mention the middle name as well during booking. Some people in the UK book with their nicknames. Once the ticket is issued, you need to contact the airline and highlight the same. At times they change it keeping in mind the standard policy but most of the time a name change is not allowed once the ticket is issued.


Foreign documents

In some countries, like India, China or Kenya, have a provision for visa for entry but South Africa does not allow to enter unless the passport has two blank unstamped pages. We suggest you research about the requirements before you book your flights. For the US, you can visit https://travel.state.gov/content/travel.html.


Baggage Allowance

Carry-ons have a fixed dimension, the information of which could be found on the airline website or can be checked by contacting the Airline customer care. Make sure your baggage fits within the dimensions specified by the carrier. If you are a newbie, you must go through the baggage allowance. Understand the difference between the cabin and checked baggage. Cabin baggage is the one that you can carry along with you in the cabin. The dimensions of this are also specified on the website. Checked baggage is the one that you handover to the airline for transportation in the hold of an aircraft and collect it when you reach the destination.


Packing Tips

Start packing ahead of time to avoid the last-minute hassle. There are certain restrictions involved when you are traveling by air. You cannot keep sharp or pointy objects like scissors, screwdrivers in your handbag. We suggest you wrap in a cloth and carry in checked baggage. Contact customer care for an update of the policy. Sometimes they are not allowed at all and maybe thrown away at the airport. You are not allowed to carry any inflammable liquids with you. 


Your medicines should always be packed in cabin baggage. Your chargers and prescriptions if any should also be in cabin baggage. Batteries/lithium icon cells for portable electronic devices should always be removed and kept in checked baggage. Protect the batteries individually to prevent short circuits.

Carrying liquids also comes with restrictions. You need to carry them in checked baggage and secondary, you can carry limited quantity. For the US and UK, rules are different. Read the restrictions on the carrier’s website. We recommend you carry sample-sized travel packs for carrying your body lotions and cream. Perfume also needs to be in the checked baggage. Instead of carrying the whole perfume bottle, use a refillable fragrance atomizer that is quite compact to carry. Place all the liquids in a separate and clear bag to avoid any hassles during the security check at the airport. 


Carry your accessories in a separate pouch and you can keep that in carry-on baggage. It is advisable to carry a scarf as you may feel cold in the plane as sometimes the temperature is not comfortable.

 The baggage has weight restrictions as well. The same information is there on the baggage tab of airline websites. When you are done packing, always weigh the suitcases and bags.


Prepare your paperwork ahead of time

There are a lot of uncertainties while traveling. In case of unforeseen situations, travel insurance can help you to cover the loss and also makes you safe against travel-related emergencies. Invest in travel insurance. 

 

Make copies of important travel documents. If you lose the document, then at least you have a copy to prove your identity wherever required. So we advise that you keep the document in one bag and keep the photocopy in another bag. We suggest you save them online and print multiple copies and keep them in separate bags. Digital copies are the best way of saving yourself from any trouble.

 

Most airlines nowadays issue e-tickets that you can download on your smartphone/tablet. A confirmation is also sent through the mail by the airline. You can show the same to the airport staff.  


Packing snacks

You can only carry dry snacks in the cabin baggage. At the airport, the food available is quite expensive and in-flight also whatever you will buy, may not be filling and taste will not be as expected. So we suggest, you carry some snacks with you like cookies, sandwiches, chocolates, pies, brownies, etc. 

If you have a baby, then carry baby food in a separate bag. Carry milk powder and warm water for a safer side.


Check-In Online

If you check-in online, it saves a lot of time at the airport. If you do not have checked baggage and just a carry-on/hand baggage, then this is the best option for you. Most of the airlines have a luggage drop off only for those who have checked in online.


 Some airlines offer free seating within 24 hours before departure. In those cases, you can check online, select your seat and download the boarding pass. Most of the airlines have paid seating now until and unless you are a frequent flyer member of the airline or travel in business class. 


Arrive early at the airport

If you are traveling for the first time, then it is a must for you as you are not so aware of the check-in at airport counters. Leave your place early as sometimes, you may get late due to traffic on the way. So it is better to report to the airport 3 hours before departure. The   boarding gate also closes around 30 minutes prior departure time. So it is good to check-in early and relax for the boarding to start. 

 

Security Check

Keep all your documents like passport/ID Card, print out of boarding pass handy at airport entrance in a small bag or you can also use a passport cover for the same. The security has increased nowadays and we suggest men to not wear a belt as that is also been requested to remove at the time of frisking. A pro tip is to keep your electronics charged as at some airports, the security measures state that you need to switch your laptop on. If it does not switch on, there will be a problem in getting a security clearance.

 

Lounges

The lounge access is free for the card members/ frequent flyers eligible for lounge access. Some may have an entrance fee. Every airline has a policy of its own. So do inquire from the customer care of the airline. We suggest you use the airport lounge during a long layover.


Beware of public Wi-Fi

Do not let yourself be lured by free Wi-Fi access at airport/lounge. When you use it, your valuable information may get stolen by hackers like credit card details or any other data of significance like bank details. If you need internet access at all, then you can set up a virtual private network (VPN) that will allow using the internet securely. Alternatively, you can also get a portable router to set up your own Wi-Fi hotspot. You may require a local SIM card that you can purchase at any electronic store/airport kiosk.


Airport Monitors

Check the airport monitors for flight information for up-to-date information. Double-check your boarding gate before you proceed with your trolley.


Download movies/music 

Entertainment is a must when you wait to board your flight. Load your phone with movies and favorite playlist so that you can enjoy it anytime, like in-flight entertainment. For book lovers, you can enjoy reading on your Kindle.


Trackable luggage tags

Always keep the baggage tags attached on your boarding pass intact till you collect your luggage from the conveyor belt. Though baggage rarely gets misplaced. Then you will endless discussions with airlines asking for your baggage. We recommend you to register your trackable luggage tag’s serial number online that ensures extra security.


Luggage Hugger/Handle Wrap

While traveling we notice so many similar suitcases be the make or the color. If you use luggage hugger/handle wrap, then you will spot it easily on the conveyor belt as it will stand out and will not get mixed.

Travel Pillow & Eye Mask

During your flight journey, your co-passenger may not want to roll down the windows and you want to take a power nap. We suggest you carry an eye mask and a travel pillow so that the light is blocked and you feel comfortable sleeping with your cushioned pillow.

Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Carry noise-cancelling headphones so that you are not disturbed by the ambient noise. We recommend a wireless headphone so that wires do not get tangled.


Wear comfortable footwear

It is always better to wear sturdy shoes during travel so that you can walk comfortably with baggage. Avoid wearing flip flops on the plane.


Choice of Seat

If you are getting the option of choosing your seat then, avoid a seat near the toilet as you may be disturbed by the frequent movement of people. Try to book an aisle seat and a seat with more legroom space. The legroom space ones are usually towards the front of the cabin. 


In-flight meal

You can pre-book your meals before your departure. If you are not getting the option online, contact the airline for the same. It is added free of cost on mostly all carriers. We suggest you book an Asian vegetarian meal option as the richer the food, the chances are more of falling sick.


Traveling with family

When traveling with family, it is better to carry a tablet or phone with the cartoons/animated flicks downloaded so that your child can also enjoy and does not disturb you or any other passenger around.


Handling a cancelled/No-show flight

When the flight gets cancelled due to some technical reason or weather conditions, do not panic. The best way to handle this is to call the airline and they will assist you to rebook on the next available flight. Usually, when it is the airline that cancels the flight, they rebook free of cost. 


For No shows, every airline has different policies so if you turn a no-show, call the airline and check for policies. Sometimes they charge a fee and change the booking to the next flight or date whatever is convenient for you. There are a lot of discounted fares where there cannot be any changes made to your booking after you turn a no-show. You will not be able to change or get a refund for such bookings. The only option is to buy a new ticket. At the time of booking the flights, carefully read the fare rules.

 

Voucher

Do not accept the voucher from the airline if your flight is overbooked. Airlines may give you a lucrative offer until you agree to them. If they bump you involuntarily, accept cash compensation instead of a voucher.


Carry a pen

Always carry a pen especially when you are traveling overseas. You will have to fill the immigration forms onboard.


Do not keep baby on your lap

Most airlines will allow flying with a baby on your lap for free, but we do not recommend it. In cases of turbulence, you may face issues. It is better if you get a collapsible stroller. You can also book a bassinet in advance.


BYOB

Bring your own bottle and fill it after you pass security. Carrying your bottle is quite convenient.


Jet Lag

It is quite common, especially on long haul flights. As you certainly want to avoid exhaustion during the trip, so we recommend sleeping on the flight. 


Disinfect everything

Use the disinfectant wipes after touching surfaces of planes/trains like armrests, digital screens, tray tables and seatbelts.


Alcohol Consumption

Onboard, avoid alcohol as much as you can. When you are traveling at a high altitude, do not over-exert and have plenty of water. 


Before take-off

Before the plane takes off, there will be some procedures shown to you. If you are flying for the first time, then you will see how to buckle your seat belt, the different lights on the seat ahead of you mean and what to do in an emergency. Listen to the instructions carefully. 

 

In addition to all the above simple strategies, there are small-small things that you can undertake to travel in a more peaceful and calm experience. Choose a soft-sided bag that can be squished easily in the overhead bin space. For every checked baggage, lock it with a code lock to ensure its security. Avoid overnight flights as that is not so relaxing as compared to your day flight.


We have put the collective wisdom in one place for you. For first time flyers, we hope these tips will help you to have a safe flight with confidence and excitement. So take a note of these tips, and you will step off the plane feeling relaxed and will be excited for everything that awaits you at your destination.

Have a good flight!

Written by "Jean Claude Reuille" on 25-Aug-2020

Share this article

Send a message to Jean Claude Reuille